Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Was a Jewish Hitler in the 5th Grade

My latest post for the Secular Spectrum: I Was a Jewish Hitler in the 5th Grade.

No really, I was. I was given an assignment to profile a famous person in history class. I picked Hitler because I was curious about the Holocaust. I always picked subjects I was curious about for my book reports. If I had more consciousness about my heritage, I would already have known more than the bare essentials about the genocide of my people by the Nazis.

But it was my ADHD to blame when I missed the rest of the teacher's instructions. I heard the part about how we were supposed to write the report as the person we were profiling. The part I missed was when she said we had to read it out loud in class.

When it came time for us to read the reports, I was appalled. I went to the teacher and asked her if I could avoid readed my report. She refused. I then told her that my subject was Adolf Hitler. Still, she wouldn't let me avoid read it aloud. So, I got up in front of that class filled with fundamentalist Christians and pretended that I was Adolf Hitler, the man who murdered six million of my people.

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

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In July of 2013, I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died. When I awoke from the coma, I could barely lift my head. It has been a hard road to recovery. The doctors advised my loved ones to give up all hope for my full recovery, but while they were shining lights in my eyes to gauge my level of consciousness, I was telling them grumpily to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to my coma-dream. I was experiencing covert cognition, and the coma-dream was my version of a near-death experience. I'm a skeptic, so I saw surreal images instead of spirits or dead loved ones. According to my research, as many as one in five people with consciousness disorders have covert cognition.

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.